Monthly Archives: October 2021

Politicians’ Data Envy On Display Again in Senate Hearings

by Amy Peikoff and Benjamin Chayes

The Senate Committee on Commerce is in the midst of conducting its long-awaited hearings on privacy. This might seem long overdue, considering the European Parliament has for several years been trying to ensure that companies respect consumer privacy. Even China has enacted privacy legislation. Here in the United States, however, only a handful of states have thus far tried to address consumer privacy legislatively.

The topic of privacy in China, the country which instituted the world’s first Social Credit System, would require a separate article. Still, we might wonder why the U.S. has lagged behind Europe in the protection of individual privacy. This can be explained partly by considering the relative preoccupations of legislators on either side of the pond. Whereas the European perspective generally assumes that law is primarily intended to protect private citizens against the ill-doings of big companies, the American tradition assumes that federal law exists primarily to delineate and limit the scope of government action — to protect citizens first and foremost against government overreach. Is there a reason to break with this tradition with respect to the issue of privacy? In particular, what should we make of the proposal most touted during the hearings: not an American GDPR, but instead a new privacy and data security bureau at the FTC?

Read more at Real Clear Policy

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Imagine There’s No Facebook, TODAY at 12 p.m. ET

Today we’ll discuss substantive issues raised by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, as well as Facebook’s response. And more, including some updates on Flattening the CronyCare Curve.

We’ll stream live on my YouTube channel here. I’ll update this post afterwards with the link to the recorded show, which will also be crossposted to Rumble and various podcast outlets tomorrow.

UPDATE recording on YouTube here:

Support for the show is greatly appreciated! Contribute via Patreon here.

Program Notes:

Amy on the Chris Salcedo Show (beginning of this hour of his show)

Google will prevent climate change deniers from making money from ads

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Imagine There’s No Facebook

Ad in New York Times earlier this year.

By Amy Peikoff and Benjamin Chayes
(title in header here was as originally submitted to Fox Business)

Facebook was offline long enough on Monday for people to speculate, not only about what had incapacitated the social media behemoth, but also about life post-Facebook. For some that meant shopping for a competitor: Our company, Parler was one of them and experienced a surge of traffic.   

But we suspect others used the downtime to ponder the outage – also affecting Instagram and WhatsApp – coinciding with whistleblower Frances Haugen’s revelations appearing on front pages worldwide. Those revelations were the subject of yet another congressional hearing Tuesday, with Haugen repeatedly urging privacy-preserving congressional oversight for the platform’s “engagement-based ranking” algorithms, and explaining that, ironically, such oversight – which she assumes would yield more purely chronological feeds – would also be in Facebook’s long-term self-interest. 

Just as unconfirmed rumors have suggested for years, it appears that Facebook’s business model actually does depend upon amplifying conflict and divisiveness. According to Haugen, the company’s algorithms operate by stirring strong feelings – usually negative – about the content in users’ feeds. 

Read more at Fox Business


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